Cassidy Family - Lucie Cassidy

From Knox, NY - a Helderberg Hilltown
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Sketch of TheWoman Who Gave Altamont Its Name

By Arthur B. Gregg, Town Historian

The other day I found the only picture known of Mrs. William Cassidy. It was originally published in the old Albany Evening News in 1936 from a former newspaper of the early 1890's.

As the only picture I have ever seen of this lady, I have been very careful to preserve this old clipping and to secure a fair reproduction. Mrs. Cassidy was one of the earliest members of the Albany summer crowd that began to build houses on the side of the Helderbergs above the village around the 1870's and 1880's. Alone, she had paid for the new Catholic chapel on Grand St.

Why should we all be so interested in this little old lady? Because we owe the name of our village, Altamont, to her.

Agitation began in 1886 to change the name of our post office. The booming town that had grown up around the railroad track of the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad, Knowersville, had been suffering for years from its mail mixed up with that of Knowlesville (Orleans county), N.Y., and vice versa. Our mail was sent there, theirs was sent here, and it took several days to correct the deliveries.

But there were numerous Knowers alive here in Albany and Schoharie. Every one of them fought the change vigorously. They were willing to cut the "-ville" off and use just the name Knower. Another prominent summer resident was Rufus W. Peckham, then Judge of the Court of Appeals and later a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. His name, Peckham, was suggested as the new name of the village.

The real story behind the adoption of the name was told me by my old friend, Mr. Frank Lape, who knew the situation intimately. It seems as though that during the close of the controversy, when the Knowers’ interests seemed in the ascendancy, Mrs. William R. Cassidy took an interest, in the affair.

As mentioned before, she had for many years maintained a home on the mountain above Knowersville. She was the widow of William R. Cassidy, that great power in the Democratic party since 1841 and who at his death was president of the Argus Company in Albany. Closely associated with him in the Argus Company was Daniel Manning, the man who was responsible for the nomination to the presidency in 1884 of Grover Cleveland, and who became Cleveland's first Secretary of the Treasury. Now Cleveland was no stranger to Knowersville, nor to Mrs. Cassidy's estate on the mountain, the hospitality of which he frequently enjoyed while he was governor of the state. Her influence with him from political and personal reasons can well be understood. There came a hurried request to the President from Mrs. Cassidy. Said Grover Cleveland, “If Mrs. Cassidy is interested in having that post office named Altamont, Altamont it shall be." And the order went forth.

Altamont Enterprise February 6, 1976